Why you should shout at old ladies

Alan Cameron-Sweeney

Why You Should Shout at Old Ladies

I shouted across the restaurant at an old lady:

“That’s rude!”

Now mind you, I’m not in the habit of shouting at seniors.

But this time, I had to.

It’s not my fault. Empathy made me do it.

Okay, allow me to explain myself. 

Let’s turn back the clock to Sunday afternoon. 

I was having some time to myself. Eating alone in a quiet cafe, doing my weekly planning.

An introvert’s paradise.

But then comes a mum with her two boys, about 5 and 7.

After a few minutes, one of the boys starts getting noisy.

His mum does her best to keep him quiet, but he won’t stop making a racket.

That’s when I notice the old lady.

She keeps turning and staring. Looking more frustrated each time.

She’s like a kettle that’s about to boil. 

Then it happens. She snaps.

“Can you keep your bloody kids quiet?”

Before the mum has a chance to reply, my large, booming voice echoes through the cafe.

“Excuse me… That’s rude!”

Why Did I Intervene?
I spoke up immediately, without a second thought.

Because at that moment, I didn’t see a mum and her two kids.

I saw my wife and my son.

My wife needing a sit down after shopping.

Hungry after a morning spent running errands, just needing a quick bite and some coffee.

All while managing our son, a sweet seven year old boy with autism. 

I love my son, of course. And I mean this in the kindest way possible. But he’s a liability!

He’ll run off.

He’ll take things from other people’s tables.

He’ll get happy and shout exuberantly.

It’s all very cute… unless you’re in a cafe!

Eight years ago, I wouldn’t have understood what this woman had been through.

I may have been frustrated with her kids and her inability to hush them.

Knowing what it’s like to be in her shoes has completely changed that - and my actions.

I Wasn’t Finished Yet
It didn’t end there. My shouting didn’t scare the old lady into silence.

No, it made her get all huffy-puffy.

She couldn’t believe that someone told her - her, of all people - that she was being rude.

So she fired back, “Well, I don’t care!”

“Well lady,” I boomed, “nobody cares about your feelings.”

That did it.

She backed down and the cafe got quiet.

Even the kids settled down a bit. 

Understanding Someone Changes How You Act
I know what you’re thinking.

“Alan, I’m here to learn about Finance. Why are you telling me about shouting at old ladies?”

Fair enough!

Let’s talk about stakeholders, then.

I want you to start looking at your stakeholders the way I looked at that mother and her two kids.

When you empathize with your stakeholders, you can approach them with a deeper level of understanding.

You will also act differently.

By walking a mile in their shoes, you’ll see their world the way they do. Not the way it looks from where you’re standing.

I’m not saying you should be ready to shout at someone. Thankfully, it probably won’t come to that.

But you may find yourself automatically sticking up for your stakeholders, even when they aren’t in the room. 

You won’t second guess yourself. You won’t keep quiet because it might be awkward. You won’t wait around to see if someone else comes to your stakeholder’s rescue.

You’ll simply act. Because you’ll know where they’re coming from. Because you’ll genuinely care.

The way I did with that mother.

And just like that mother, your stakeholders will be very grateful for it.

Take a Walk in Their Shoes
How can you walk a mile in your stakeholders’ shoes?

When I worked at Asahi, Finance people working in sales would “spend a day in the trade.” They’d tag along with a sales rep to get real-world experience. 

What’s your version of “a day in the trade?”

What would it take for you to really know what your stakeholder needs? To know which problems they face?

I’m sure your stakeholders would love to have you spend time understanding their world.

So, take that opportunity. Find out what it’s really like to be in their position. See things from their perspective.

It will help you get the results you need. It will help you build a stronger rapport and gain more influence.

It will make you a better Finance professional overall.

Best of all, you can accomplish all that without having to shout at any old ladies. 

        - Alan “Defeater of Old Ladies” Cameron-Sweeney

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